The Dallas Cowboys could be without running back Ezekiel Elliott for much of the upcoming season, with a new report indicating that the team could be ready for a long holdout.
As ProFootballTalk noted, there have been some public indications from the Cowboys and owner Jerry Jones that the contract talks between the team and Elliott may not be done anytime soon. Though Elliott is signed through 2020, he must play enough of this season to get credit for the fourth year of his five-year rookie deal, the report noted. That means he may sit out this season through October.
The team seems prepared for this, the report noted, citing a quote from Jerry Jones about the possibility that Elliott will be gone from the team until the “dog days” kick in.
“We’ve got a marathon here,” Jones said earlier this week. “We want Zeke when we get to the playoffs. We want Zeke when we’re in the dog days of the season.”
The report speculated that Elliott will report to the team after Week 6. The Cowboys are likely to request an exemption for up to three weeks when he returns, and that would put Elliott back in the lineup by Week 10.
“The Cowboys understand these rules, and they surely assume that Elliott will show up in time to get credit for 2019, setting himself up for 2020 being the final year of his contract,” the report noted.
Jerry Jones has already made it clear that the team is not putting a deadline in place to get a deal done, the SB Nation site Blogging the Boys noted. Jones told reporters that the team has been able to manage without star players in the past, whether they are lost to injuries or suspensions or holdouts, which appeared to set the stage for Elliott’s likely holdout. The Pro Bowl running back would be back for a stretch run and the playoffs, should the Cowboys make it.
Jerry Jones' comments from Wednesday suggest that the Cowboys are bracing for a six-week regular season holdout by Ezekiel Elliott https://t.co/MCE0j9BS8c— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) August 29, 2019
With Ezekiel Elliott not likely to be on the field when the Dallas Cowboys start their season, the team is expected to turn to backup Tony Pollard to get the majority of the work. As CBS Sports noted, Pollard has looked capable in his preseason action, breaking off some long runs and showing he is an effective target in the passing game. Unless something drastic changes in the negotiations with Ezekiel Elliott, Tony Pollard is expected to get the start in Week 1 against the New York Giants.